BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
TRAVERSE CITY — A local party push and long Republican coattails couldn't unseat Grand Traverse County's single Democratic county commissioner.
Democrat Ross Richardson sped past Republican Ralph Soffredine, a city commissioner and former Traverse City Police chief, for a win and second term representing the east side of Traverse City and Garfield Township.
Voters also returned Republican Christine Maxbauer to a third term and elected Republican newcomer Jason Gillman.
Several voters said they thought Soffredine, who serves on 13 local boards or committees, was too much a part of the old-guard establishment.
"Soffredine's the old guy. We need change there," said Fred Cook, of Traverse City.
Richardson said voters appreciate his record.
"I've done a good job representing the voters, making sure we get the best deal for our money and not rewarding people who feed at the trough because of their connections," Richardson said.
Soffredine supporters such as Nancy Larke and Melanie Hardy said they liked his long record of public service and thought he was the better candidate.
Gillman, a tea party activist, dunked Democrat Bernol Soutar in Commission District 1 that covers Old Mission Peninsula and the northeast corner of East Bay Township.
"I'm going to turn some stones over and look under the hood," Gillman said. "I'm hoping I can save them some money and deliver them maximum value out of county government."
Maxbauer captured almost 70 percent of the vote over Green Party challenger Tom Mair in Commission District 7, the west side of Traverse City and the northwest corner of Garfield Township.
Maxbauer thanked voters for their continued support and said she will continue to focus on fiscal responsibility.